Sexual Functioning Disorders

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Sexual Desire Disorders

When I speak of sex, I do not mean ‘fucking,’ but the embrace prompted by genuine love

–Wilhelm Reich

Sexual functioning disorders are distinguished in:

  • Sexual desire disorders
  • Sexually aroused disorders
  • Disorders in the orgasm
  • Disorders that occur after sex

These disorders are only identified as such if no other psychiatric disorder is involved (after all, many psychiatric disorders are also accompanied by disorders in sexual perception and activity.)

Sexual desire may be reduced.

There is then a lack of sexual fantasies and no desire to have sex. There may also be an aversion to having sex with a partner. This can mean a change in a relationship, sometimes even hostility. In the vast majority of cases, decreased sex drive is the result of relationship problems. Yet there are also organic factors that can play a role and personality traits where someone cannot see themselves as sexually attractive or has had unpleasant experiences in this area in the past. It will be clear that someone who finds himself attractive, who has previously experienced pleasant sexual contact and who has found a suitable partner, will have less sexual problems than someone who lacks all this.

Sexual arousal is much more common than expected.

A third of the women who were asked about their experiences in large studies indicated that they had sexual arousal problems and stayed long enough to reach an orgasm. Fear, guilt can play a role, sometimes it is a result of the lesser desire mentioned earlier. The moment also plays a role in the menstrual cycle for women. Not getting excited or staying too long is called erectile dysfunction in men. Some men have had this all their lives, others have it only in certain situations, for example excited by a prostitute but not at home with a girlfriend or wife. 10 to 20% of men experience problems maintaining the erection. The potency decreases with age. In addition to relationship problems, anxiety and guilt can also play a role in men. The list of organic factors that influence sexual functioning is very long. Many physical diseases lead to male erectile dysfunction. The list of medications that adversely affect sexual arousal and orgasm is almost endless. There is probably no pill that does not affect the very fine interplay of nerve endings, neuroendocrine regulation mechanisms and psychological factors that play a role in sex.

Orgasm disturbances in women.

Orgasm disturbances can last a long time. Only a small percentage of women have never experienced an orgasm around age 35. Disorders in the woman’s orgasm decrease with age. A possible explanation could be that more experience has been gained, that fear and shame play less of a role. There are many psychological factors that hinder the orgasm in women. Fear of pregnancy, fear of partner rejection, fear of damage, hostility, guilt.

No orgasm can be experienced in men.

A distinction can be made between not experiencing ejaculation with an orgasm or vice versa, such as with premature ejaculation. Usually ambivalent feelings in the relationship to the partner play the main role, and differences of opinion about whether or not pregnancy can contribute to the problem. Premature ejaculation is distinguished as a separate disorder. The definitions differ. Really premature is ejaculation before a full erection is achieved. Usually it means that the man has reached an orgasm before penetration has taken place. It is then too early especially relative to the partner.

The post-sex disorders

The post-sex disorders mainly concern headaches that can sometimes last for several hours. Migraines and other headaches can sometimes be triggered by sexual activity and orgasm. According to Wilhelm Reich, MD, “guilt feelings and hypochondriacal anxiety, which disturbs the course of excitation during the act itself … causes neurasthenia [i.e. fatigue, headache, depression].Pain before, during and after sex is a reason for further investigation by a doctor, gynecologist. But here, too, psychological factors often play the most important role.

Recognize yourself or your partner in one of these symptoms?

If you recognize yourself or your partner in one of these symptoms, an evaluation is recommended. At the Institute for Bodymind Integration we work with methods and techniques that have proven their value in this area .:

  • Individual Therapy: Individual work focuses on the development of specific skills for managing arousal, desire, orgasmic potential. It also considers stressors, self and body image.
  • Relaxation, grounding, hypnosis and body awareness and expression: Like individual therapy, relaxation, grounding, hypnosis and body awareness and expression works by teaching specific client management skills. We use techniques that make you aware of the inner processes that contribute to satisfying sex, and thus teach you better control over these processes.
  • Partner relationship therapy: Partner relationship therapy at the IBI may or may not be combined with practical instructions and exercises. It can also be important in treatment to also focus on developing open communication and expression of emotion.
  • Group Therapy: Groups provide safe and appropriate social training where the client can receive feedback from other group members and professionals on how to regulate their behavior.
  • Our own Pelvic-Heart Integration programs are a useful addition to many of the therapeutic treatment options outlined above for many people.
  • Medical devices: Devices and injections have been developed to sustain male arousal for longer. In recent years, drug treatment with agents such as sildenafil (Viagra) has emerged.

[Unarmoured] Life also lets its love relationships grow slowly from a first comprehensive glance to the fullest yielding during the quivering embrace. Life does not rush toward the embrace. It is in no hurry . . . So also, Life does not, in meeting a mate, begin with the idea of the embrace. Life meets because it just meets. It can separate again; it can walk together a stretch and then separate; or it may go all the way toward the full merger. Life has no preconceived idea of what will happen in the future. Life lets things run their natural course.”

Wilhelm Reich, MD

It takes many months, sometimes years, to learn to know your love partner in the body. The finding of the body of the beloved one itself is gratification of the first order . . . this search itself and the mutual wordless finding one’s way into the beloved’s sensations and truly cosmic quivering, is pure delight, clean like water in a mountain brook. This heart-warming continuous experience of love and contact and mutual surrender and body delight is the decent bondage which goes with every naturally growing marriage.”

Wilhelm Reich, MD

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Individual therapy sessions

Dirk Marivoet psychotherapist in Belgium

Dirk Marivoet, MSc. is a European certified psychotherapist (ECP). He studied physiotherapy as well as psychomotor therapy at the University of Leuven. For over 30 years he has worked in a holistic way and is especially interested in the integration of body and mind.

Dirk Marivoet and his colleagues at the IBI (International Institute of Bodymind Integration) offer individual therapy sessions for those interested in this mind-body approach.

In Ghent (Belgium), Europe, the rest of the world and online.

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